We all learned a lesson that day. Don’t stay on the road until you secure the hill tops. My squad was the lead up the hill on the left the next morning. The hill was about 600 feet tall from the maps I was reading. There was a walking path up toward the top and we stuck to that path until we came to a small collection of huts. Another lesson struck very fast when machine guns opened up on my squad. I darted behind some little huts on the right and my squad was behind me and most retreated behind a small hill. I searched the huts to neutralize any enemies and found none. The was an old man about 80 holding a small child between his legs tightly protecting him. The captain started ordering us all to retreat because the mortar company could not give adequate support.
My problem was that I had to run across that path to get to the hill where my squad was located. The enemy was anticipating that some numb skull was going to have to run across that path to get to safety. I did not want to stay behind and possibly be taken prisoner or worse yet, KIA. I mustered my best dodging and jumping and diving techniques learned in basic training and went for it. Fortunately none of the many bullets hit me. I did have a group of members of my squad who were rooting for me and they caught me before I dived over the next hill.
I learned after we returned to base camp that one of my squad who was behind me had sustained a fatal head wound. He was my BAR man and I had a strong attachment to him. One of the hardest things that I had to do was write a letter to the family that would be included in the packet sent to them from the Army.
The captain was very reluctant to take us back up the mountain the next day but he had assurances from the mortar company that we could have the proper support next time we got pinned down. I had a restless sleep that night.
As I heard the artillery bombarding the hill that night I could not help but think of the old man and the child that I had met in an almost friendly way in that small village up the hill.
The Korean War had now changed from retreat to pursue. Those in the Pusan Perimeter were now breaking out and coming north in pursuit of the retreating North Korean Army. The orders for the 7th Infantry Division, after the successful invasion at Inchon was to go south so we could board ships. Some said we were being sent back to the States. Wishful thinking. We were headed north to make a landing in North Korea. I am not sure Truman wanted that. MacArthur thought it was the right thing to do.
The landing site in North Korea was the Hamhung, Hungnam area. The South Korean Army was coming up the east side of Korea and was to meet up with the U. S Marines first and the keep going to meet up with the 7th Infantry Division at Hamhung. They were to keep going up to the Yalu river on the east side of Korea.
The orders for the lst Marine Division was to go to the Chosen Reservoir Area and head to the Yalu river. The 7th Infantry Division was to go up to the Yalu River East of Chosen. The 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division was the lead unit and they made it to the Yalu river and celebrated by making a urine deposit in the river. Then things got hairy. This was the last of October in 1950.
There was a lot of talk about the Chinese entering the war but this seemed to be discounted. MacArthur was quoted as saying “The Chinese would not dare to intervene”. When all of the American and South Korean forces started going over the 38th Parallel it was with a lot of enthusiasm that the Korean Peninsula could be united under a Democratic Government.
Several things happened to change the results of the war. The “Coldest Winter” came to bog down the American Troops who were not well equipped for this kind of weather. The Communist Chinese did indeed enter the war with a vengeance. The air support was spotty because of bad weather conditions. On October 9, 1950 when I was supposed to be discharged from the Army, I was in North Korea near the North Korean Chosen Reservoir getting frostbite. I was headed back to Hamhung, Hungnam to be evacuated to South Korea. Christmas 1950 in the good old USA? How about South Korea?
Fast forward 68.5 years and we are still having difficulty with the North Korean Dictatorship.
You can see from this picture that crossing the International Date Line has some significance. In sailors lingo, the Golden Dragon is ruler of the 180 degree Meridian. You jump ahead a day when you are going west and lose a day when you are coming east. How this paper has survived seventy years is remarkable. This issue of “The Crow’s Nest” was published on May 6, 1948 with this certificate of election into this exclusive club of those who get to cross the International Date Line.
There is another honor that one gets when you cross the Equator. Johnnie and I both crossed the Equator when we went on a mission trip many years after 1948. One was when we went to Kenya and the other when we went to Ecuador. I have digressed from my story on arriving in Korea. There are other things that I should mention about the Grahams’ of Cochran County while I am in the mode of telling things in a chronological order. We have Marguerite, George and Leola married off. This was all while I was living in Morton. Flora Katherine married Wilburn Charles (Babe) Vanlandingham on September 26, 1947. Babe and Katie continued to live in Morton and Cochran County, Texas for many more years. They had two boys and one girl while living in Morton. Don and Dick both graduated from Morton High School. Vicki was disabled from birth and not able to attend public school, but was a major part of the family structure.
A quote from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The ride on the ship was long and boring as mentioned previously. It did help to visit the ships library and find some useful quotes to go along with pictures I was taking. A peaceful landing at Inchon Harbor in 1948.
We then crossed the Han Gang River to enter Seoul. The was 1948 – pre-Korean War. Somehow I have misplaced the author of this quote. I will add it later as I look through my files.
Yesterday’s blog erroneously indicated that Johnnie worked in the cafeteria at Cathcart. I knew better but for some reason I did not put the real name in the blog, which should have been Pattie Cobb Cafeteria. In fact she stayed her semester in Pattie Cobb Dorm. If you want to check out more about Pattie Cobb you might go to Liz Harrell’s blog of March 26, 2015 that describes some spooky things about Pattie Cobb. Perhaps that is why I did not get the name right in the first place (https://elizabeth-harrell.com).
My daughter, Dorcas (also a graduate of Harding), pointed out to me that I should have told one of her mother’s favorite stories about mixing the eggs for breakfast. Johnnie would tell the story of having a rather large pot that she was to fill with fresh eggs just cracked and dropped in the pot. How to fish out one of those eggs that did not look so good among the other 50 eggs or so? You didn’t. Just go ahead and process the bunch. The heat would kill the bacteria hopefully. Does anybody know how to solve that problem?
Johnnie was a very disappointed young lady when she had to return to West Texas State College to finish her college education. She just loved her roommate who was from Japan. She had fallen deeply in love with Harding. So much so that she insisted our children go to Harding or pay their own way somewhere else. This strong advise has also applied to our grandchildren and it looks like our great grandchildren might get this same strong advise.
The Lord apparently directed that all of this happen because I had been praying since I was 16 that God send me the perfect mate. I was home from the Korean War and not yet discharged when Steve Eckstein took me to Harding to look the place over. That was in the summer of 1951. Everything seemed ok but too restrictive for me. Also the GI bill for the Korean War Veterans had not been passed yet because the war was still going on when I was rotated out. I had to work my way through Junior College in Odessa where I could work as a Theater Projectionist and go to school at the same time.
My professor at Odessa College, Leonard Pack, suggested that I get my BS degree at West Texas State because Professor Whaley was the best in getting his students into medical school. Go somewhere else and the professors might not be interested enough in his/her students to give them that extra push to get the medical school entrance exam score high enough to get admitted.
Fast forward to September 1953 when I arrived in Canyon, Texas and could not find a job as a theater projectionist due to the union situation. I had to take up a job driving a taxi in Amarillo at night in order to enroll. Still no GI Bill.
I met Johnnie briefly in the Bible Chair during an introductory session where the Bible Professor had us all sitting in a circle. I had just taken a memory course at Texas Tech and this helped a lot because the game was for the first in the circle to say their name. The second one was to say the first person’s name and then their name. You get the picture. I was pretty close to the end of the line because I did not know what was going on. By the time it got to me I was able to say the name of the 20 or so in front of me and my name as well. I was surprised at that time that I remembered my name. Johnnie told me years later that under her breath she asked someone “who is that old smarty”?
Unfortunately I could not make enough money driving the taxi and could not study well enough to keep my grades up so I left school and went back to Odessa and drove a truck for the Western Company. They sent us out on jobs that took 36 hours to perform pumping acid down into the oil and gas wells (fracking). During that time the government did get the GI Bill approved for the Korean War Veterans and I was able to return to West Texas State.
Stay tuned for the third installment.
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